Dow Chemical posts 4Q loss on charge - WNEM TV 5

Dow Chemical posts 4Q loss on charge

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Dow Chemical Co. is feeling the impact of the slowing European economy, and seeing some weakness in North America as well.

The nation's largest chemical maker said Thursday that it posted a loss of 2 cents per share in the fourth quarter as a one-time charge resulted in higher taxes at its Brazilian operations.

Excluding charges, Dow earned 25 cents per share. But that was short of analysts' expectations and shares fell 3 percent in premarket trading.

Price increases helped revenue rise 2 percent to $14.1 billion. But overall volume was down 3 percent, or flat excluding businesses that Dow has sold off. The company said demand slipped as customers in North America, Europe and other regions worked through existing inventory instead of replenishing their stockpiles.

Dow says it saw global economic "deterioration" in the period, with "considerable weakness" in Western Europe. Europe, which is embroiled in a debt crisis, accounts for a quarter of the company's sales.

Volumes rose in the Latin American and Asia-Pacific region.

The Midland, Mich., company's quarterly loss totaled $20 million. That compares with a year-ago profit of $426 million, or 37 cents per share.

Results were below what Wall Street was expecting. Analysts polled by FactSet expected a profit, excluding items, of 31 cents per share on revenue of $14.18 billion.

Sales in the company's largest segment, performance plastics, fell 6 percent to $3.7 billion. That unit makes plastics for use in everything from artificial turf to diapers and food packaging. Revenue improved in all other segments.

For all of 2011, the company earned $2.4 billion, or $2.05 per share, up 22 percent from its 2010 profit of $1.97 billion, or $1.72 per share.

Revenue last year rose 12 percent to $59.99 billion.

Looking ahead, Dow said that while it expects its business to strengthen in the U.S., it's less optimistic about conditions in Europe.

"We will continue to closely monitor global economic trends and expect challenges in Western Europe to persist in the near term," Dow's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew N. Liveris said in a statement.

"We do not anticipate material improvements in market conditions for the first quarter of the year, but do project economic recovery will gain momentum as we move through the second quarter and the remainder of the year," Liveris said.

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